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Panel

Eat Pray Dish Add to ...

AMY: Do either of you notice how food is increasingly becoming as erotic as sex in films? Like Liz's nonna landlord in Rome says, "All American girls want is pasta and sausage!"

JOHANNA: We-e-ll, I don't think she was talking about the kind of sausage you fry. But the food looked insanely delicious, and Murphy gave it several montages of its own, as well as lingering close-ups.

But again - realizing that I am the team crankpot here - I resent foodie-ism as yet another chick trope. Meryl Streep and her three pals cackling about pie and vaginas (ew!) in It's Complicated. Amy Adams's eyes rolling back into her head as she eats chocolate cake in Julie & Julia. You never see men obsessing - or orgasming - over food. Other than Homer Simpson over doughnuts.

LYNN: The direction of this movie is unusual, though - one of the first of many jokes that the packed house did not laugh at is a cruel swipe at Liza Minnelli. And the lavishly gazed-upon beauty is male. Roberts gets one nice backlit shot, but is mostly looking like (and laughing like) a mallard. Ultimately, it is a confusing chick flick, more SATC than a Nancy Meyers empower-a-thon.

AMY: I think I go into a movie like EPL with expectations that I will not come out of it feeling empowered. And I'm okay with that. Sometimes you want an aged, full-bodied pecorino, and sometimes you want, well, good ol' American sliced cheese.

JOHANNA: I'm kind of anguished over women's movies, to be honest with you. I'm not in favour of narrowing the gender gap by simply replacing all the "he's" in a script with "she's," as just happened with the Angeline Jolie thriller Salt (originally developed for Tom Cruise). I do think men and women view the world differently, and I like to see the differences.

But it's a shame Hollywood can't make more movies along the lines of the Julia half of Julie & Julia: the story of a mature, rounded heroine who made a huge difference in people's lives, albeit in a traditionally female way. And I would love to see more movies in which women talk to each other, without resorting to screeching about pie.

LYNN: I remember loving the Reginald Hudlin film Boomerang (starring Eddie Murphy) in 1992, because it was an all-black cast, yet there was no political imperative. As critic Leslie Sanders has noted of Zora Neale Hurton's novel Their Eyes Were Watching God, Boomerang is political because it is simply about people - not ciphers, not symbols - going about their lives.

I like the cheese Amy calls chick flicks, as a genre, but I wish there were more films about women drinking, playing, praying, thinking … quite simply, inhabiting the world.

AMY: I'd like to see Grumpy Middle-Aged Women starring Glenn Close and Mo'Nique as directed by Kathryn Bigelow in a script by Jodie Foster (joke!). I agree with Lynn 100 per cent. There's no female equivalent to the bromance films of Apatow/Rogen/Hill et al. that skips over the neon cocktails and wardrobe-change montages. I think this weekend's box office will offer insight into whether genre still has an audience.

LYNN: The world is moving slowly when Barbie's now quite old catchphrase "We girls can do anything!" still seems, representationally, so far away. Then again, anything can happen. Sook Yin Lee directs Britney Spears and Avital Ronnell in the remake of Weekend at Bernie's, as envisioned by Barbara Gowdy? This is where the praying comes in.

JOHANNA: Amen to that. I think.

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